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Nuclear power, climate change and energy security: Exploring British public attitudes


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  • Corner, Adam
  • Venables, Dan
  • Spence, Alexa
  • Poortinga, Wouter
  • Demski, Christina
  • Pidgeon, Nick
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    Public attitudes towards nuclear power in the UK have historically been deeply divided, but as concern about climate change and energy security has exerted an increasing influence on British energy policy, nuclear power has been reframed as a low-carbon technology. Previous research has suggested that a significant proportion of people may 'reluctantly accept' nuclear power as a means of addressing the greater threat of climate change. Drawing on the results of a national British survey (n=1822), the current study found that attitudes towards nuclear remain divided, with only a minority expressing unconditional acceptance. In general, people who expressed greater concern about climate change and energy security and possessed higher environmental values were less likely to favour nuclear power. However, when nuclear power was given an explicit 'reluctant acceptance' framing - allowing people to express their dislike for nuclear power alongside their conditional support - concerns about climate change and energy security became positive predictors of support for nuclear power. These findings suggest that concern about climate change and energy security will only increase acceptance of nuclear power under limited circumstances--specifically once other (preferred) options have been exhausted.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

    Volume (Year): 39 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 9 (September)
    Pages: 4823-4833

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:39:y:2011:i:9:p:4823-4833

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    Keywords: Climate change Energy security Nuclear power;


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    1. Greenberg, Michael, 2009. "Energy sources, public policy, and public preferences: Analysis of US national and site-specific data," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 3242-3249, August.
    2. Watson, Jim & Scott, Alister, 2009. "New nuclear power in the UK: A strategy for energy security?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 5094-5104, December.
    3. Teräväinen, Tuula & Lehtonen, Markku & Martiskainen, Mari, 2011. "Climate change, energy security, and risk--debating nuclear new build in Finland, France and the UK," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 3434-3442, June.
    4. Chester, Lynne, 2010. "Conceptualising energy security and making explicit its polysemic nature," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 887-895, February.
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    Cited by:
    1. Siegrist, Michael & Visschers, Vivianne H.M., 2013. "Acceptance of nuclear power: The Fukushima effect," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 112-119.
    2. Allen, Patricia & Chatterton, Tim, 2013. "Carbon reduction scenarios for 2050: An explorative analysis of public preferences," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 796-808.
    3. Wicker, Pamela & Becken, Susanne, 2013. "Conscientious vs. ambivalent consumers: Do concerns about energy availability and climate change influence consumer behaviour?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 41-48.
    4. Kim, Younghwan & Kim, Minki & Kim, Wonjoon, 2013. "Effect of the Fukushima nuclear disaster on global public acceptance of nuclear energy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 822-828.
    5. Pinar Ertor Akyazi & Fikret Adaman & Begum Ozkaynak & Unal Zenginobuz, 2012. "Citizens’ Preferences over Nuclear and Renewable Energy Sources: Evidence from Turkey," Working Papers 2012/01, Bogazici University, Department of Economics.
    6. Hartmann, Patrick & Apaolaza, Vanessa & D'Souza, Clare & Echebarria, Carmen & Barrutia, Jose M., 2013. "Nuclear power threats, public opposition and green electricity adoption: Effects of threat belief appraisal and fear arousal," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 1366-1376.
    7. Chung, William & Yeung, Iris M.H., 2013. "Attitudes of Hong Kong residents toward the Daya Bay nuclear power plant," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 1172-1186.
    8. van Rijnsoever, Frank J. & Farla, Jacco C.M., 2014. "Identifying and explaining public preferences for the attributes of energy technologies," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 71-82.
    9. Kim, Younghwan & Kim, Wonjoon & Kim, Minki, 2014. "An international comparative analysis of public acceptance of nuclear energy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 475-483.
    10. Hao Yu & Bing Wang & Yue-Jun Zhang & Shouyang Wang & Yi-Ming Wei, 2013. "Public perception of climate change in China: results from the questionnaire survey," Natural Hazards, International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 69(1), pages 459-472, October.
    11. Bird, Deanne K. & Haynes, Katharine & van den Honert, Rob & McAneney, John & Poortinga, Wouter, 2014. "Nuclear power in Australia: A comparative analysis of public opinion regarding climate change and the Fukushima disaster," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 644-653.
    12. Han, Charles C., 2014. "Demarketing fear: Bring the nuclear issue back to rational discourse," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 183-192.
    13. Poortinga, Wouter & Aoyagi, Midori & Pidgeon, Nick F., 2013. "Public perceptions of climate change and energy futures before and after the Fukushima accident: A comparison between Britain and Japan," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 1204-1211.
    14. Dagmar Kiyar & Bettina F. Wittneben, 2012. "Nuclear Energy in the European Union after Fukushima: Political and Economic Considerations," CESifo DICE Report, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 10(3), pages 09-15, November.
    15. Linares, Pedro & Conchado, Adela, 2013. "The economics of new nuclear power plants in liberalized electricity markets," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(S1), pages S119-S125.
    16. Maxim, Alexandru, 2014. "Sustainability assessment of electricity generation technologies using weighted multi-criteria decision analysis," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 284-297.
    17. Camelia I. Lungu & Cornelia Dascalu & Chirata Caraini & Erica C. Balea, 2014. "Econometric Approach of the Scenarios regarding the Impact of the Consumer’s Empowerment and Companies’ Responsibility for Environment Sustainability on the Electricity Market Performance," The AMFITEATRU ECONOMIC journal, Academy of Economic Studies - Bucharest, Romania, vol. 16(35), pages 187, February.
    18. Fischhendler, Itay & Nathan, Daniel, 2014. "In the name of energy security: the struggle over the exportation of Israeli natural gas," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 152-162.
    19. Perlaviciute, Goda & Steg, Linda, 2014. "Contextual and psychological factors shaping evaluations and acceptability of energy alternatives: Integrated review and research agenda," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 361-381.
    20. Demski, Christina & Poortinga, Wouter & Pidgeon, Nick, 2014. "Exploring public perceptions of energy security risks in the UK," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 369-378.


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